Illegal Sand Mining Case: Supreme Court Judgment

In a significant legal development, the Supreme Court of India delivered a judgment related to illegal sand mining activities in Uttar Pradesh. The case involved allegations of unauthorized mining and property damage, leading to a detailed analysis of mining laws and their implications on criminal proceedings.


  • The appellant challenged the order dated 8 February 2019 passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate taking cognizance and summoning the appellant for trial.
  • FIR No. 0289 dated 15 November 2018 was registered based on a complaint by Mr. S.K. Pal, Surveyor, Mines Department, District Mirzapur.
  • Illegal mining was noticed during an inspection in Village Nandni, Tehsil Sadar, District Mirzapur, leading to the filing of the complaint.
  • The appellant, a Director of M/s. Kanwar Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., was granted mining rights over specific plots in Village Nandni.
  • The appellant was accused of mining sand outside the permitted area in Village Babhni, where an illegal pit was excavated.
  • The District Magistrate ordered immediate registration of the FIR based on the alleged illegal mining activities.

Also Read: Interpretation of Government Premises in Eviction Proceedings


  • Appellant Kanwar Pal Singh challenges the dismissal of his petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure by the Allahabad High Court.
  • The petition sought to quash criminal prosecution under Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code and other related sections.
  • The focus of the appellant’s argument is on the violation of Section 22 of the Mines Regulation Act.
  • The appellant contends that the charge sheeting was unwarranted as the alleged offense would fall under Section 4, punishable under Section 21 of the Mines Regulation Act.
  • The appellant’s argument also invokes the special nature of the Mines Regulation Act as a defense against prosecution under the IPC.
  • The specific details of the criminal allegations against the appellant involve various mining and property damage laws in Uttar Pradesh.
  • The appellant challenges the charge based on a FIR filed under Crime Case No. 289 of 2018 at the Vindyachal Police Station in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh.
  • The FIR in question is distinguishable as it was registered for the offence of illegal sand mining in Sanjay (supra)
  • The FIR was initiated suo moto due to the absence of any documents proving mining rights
  • The legal ratio in the Sanjay case would only be applicable to situations where the mining lease had been revoked or was non-existent

Also Read: Reconsideration of Disciplinary Proceedings by Appellate Authority – Canara Bank vs. General Manager


  • The appellant’s contention that theft of sand is not punishable under IPC sections was rejected.
  • Court clarifies that each case is unique and court decisions may not apply universally.
  • CBIs inability to submit a police report under Code Section 173 is discussed.
  • The prohibition under Section 22 of the Act applies only for contravention of Section 4 and not other offences under the Penal Code.
  • The distinction between immovable and movable property regarding sand excavation is explained.
  • The court rejected reliance on certain cases to argue against the special act prevailing over general act.
  • The CBI’s authority under TOHO Act for investigation is affirmed.
  • The difference between offences under the MMDR Act and IPC sections is highlighted.
  • Court emphasizes that police can investigate theft of sand and minerals independently of offences under the MMDR Act.
  • The special nature of the TOHO Act in dealing with specific subjects is reiterated.
  • The public trust doctrine emphasizes that certain resources like air, sea, water, forests, and minerals are held by the government in trust for the general public.
  • In the case of Jeewan Kumar Raut, the right to claim statutory bail under Section 167 of the Code was examined due to failure to file a charge-sheet within 90 days by the CBI.
  • Rulings of Calcutta High Court and Delhi High Court were reversed in Sanjay’s case, emphasizing that different offences under different enactments can be prosecuted but not punished twice for the same offence.
  • Various court decisions like Maqbool Hussain v. State of Bombay and Institute of Chartered Accountants of India v. Vimal Kumar Surana have interpreted the concept of ‘same offence’ under different enactments.
  • Sanjay’s case highlighted the issue of illegal mining and its detrimental impact on riverbeds, environment, and natural habitat.
  • The judgment underscored that investigation of offences falls within the domain of the police, subject to proper statutory provisions and for legitimate purposes.
  • The need to prevent illegal activities like unrestricted sand mining, which can have severe ecological and hydrological consequences, was emphasized in Sanjay’s case.
  • The importance of upholding the law to further the ends of justice, without being hindered by technicalities, was highlighted in the Directorate of Enforcement v. Deepak Mahajan case.
  • The police’s duty to prevent injury to public property and prosecute offenders in accordance with the law was discussed with reference to Sections 149 to 152 of the Code in Sanjay’s case.
  • The decision in Sanjay (supra) overruled the decision of the Calcutta High Court in Seema Sarkar v. State.
  • The High Court in Seema Sarkar v. State held the proceedings to be invalid and illegal.
  • The Magistrate had taken cognizance based on a charge-sheet submitted by the police under Section 21(2) of the Mines Regulation Act and Section 379 of the IPC.
  • The High Court observed that the cognizance cannot be split or divided.
  • The High Court’s decision to uphold the prosecution and cognizance of the offence under Section 379 of the IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act is accepted.
  • Prosecution and cognizance under Section 21 read with Section 4 of the Mines Regulation Act deemed invalid without proper authorization.
  • The legal issue was addressed without making factual findings on the allegations in the complaint.
  • The trial court is directed to independently assess the factual allegations and decide the charges accordingly.
  • The appeal is partially allowed, with the prosecution and cognizance under certain sections upheld.
  • No costs ordered for the appeal.

Also Read: Ensuring Fairness: Court’s Discretion in Document Production


Case Number: Crl.A. No.-001920-001920 / 2019

Click here to read/download original judgement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *